Almost 80% of jobs are found through personal networks. That’s way more than job sites or recruitment agencies. If you’re running a small company, networking and referrals can be equally powerful for meeting new clients and generating leads.
Going to networking events is often inexpensive or free, and can lead to new opportunities to either meet potential clients, or build relationships with other business owners who might refer you to one of their contacts in future.
Some people love networking, others hate it. But if you want to boost your business, networking is essential.
Business Networking Tips For Entrepreneurs
Let’s look at some essential tips for finding networking events and making them a success.
Look for the right event
In your town or city there will probably be many places you can go and meet other business people. The key is to choose the right kind of event to network at. Sites like EventBrite and MeetUp can help you find useful opportunities, as can Twitter, LinkedIn and social media – join groups in your city and watch out for upcoming meetings.
Polish your elevator pitch
If you meet someone interesting at a networking event and they ask what you do, you need an elevator pitch which summarizes that fast and makes you look like a pro. Your elevator pitch needs to be slick and easy to understand.
Bring your business card
Make it as easy as possible to share your details. Make sure you’ve got a stack of business cards, including a URL for your website where new contacts can find out more about you.
Avoid ‘drive-by networking’
‘Drive-by networking’, where someone hands out their business card to anyone who will take one, will only succeed in annoying people. Just don’t do it.
Focus on the person you’re talking to
You focus should be on building real relationships with new people. Take an interest in the person you’re talking to – even if they don’t immediately seem like a business prospect. If you make a good impression, they could introduce you to great new business opportunities somewhere down the line.
Follow up with new contacts
Do not make the mistake of forgetting to follow up with your new contacts. A simple email or even a message on LinkedIn to say how good it was to meet that person will keep the conversation going.